Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scariest characters in literature

In honor of Halloween, check out this list at Abebooks of the 10 scariest characters in literature.
Only one (the last one) is from a children's book.
  1. Big Brother from 1984 by George Orwell
  2. Hannibal Lecter from the novels by Thomas Harris
  3. Pennywise the clown from It by Stephen King
  4. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  5. Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s novel
  6. Annie Wilkes from Misery by Stephen King
  7. The demon from The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  8. Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  9. Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  10. Voldemort from the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
Voldemort is only number TEN? Have they read the seventh book? I want a recount!

Incidentally, if you don't already know about it, AbeBooks is a great online resource for finding used books.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monster Mash

I drove from my house to campus last Halloween (about a 30 minute drive) and heard the song Monster Mash FIVE times on the radio in that half hour. (This includes stations that typically play rock, country, Top 40, etc.) It's a lovely song, there's nothing wrong with it and it makes me laugh the first few dozen times or so, but after that, I admit I get a little sick of it. I'm wondering... is this just indicative of how I often I switch stations (a lot) or is this song mandatory on all radio station playlists on October 31st? Does the FCC fine you if you don't play it?

Wizards Wireless is curious... how many times have you heard Monster Mash this Halloween season? See the poll in the sidebar (although you may not want to cast your vote until Halloween is over).

And yes, this is completely off topic.

Update: Apparently I'm the only one who constantly hears this song. By the way, I heard it 2 times on Halloween- and I only listened to the radio for five minutes!

Harry Potter 7: Chapter Eleven

Welcome back to another round of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows chapter analysis. For links to my comments about Chapters 1-10, see this post.

Regular readers should note that there's been a slight change of policy.... from here on the chapter descriptions contain spoilers for the entire book, not just the chapters they refer to.











Chapter Eleven: The Bribe

Picture: Lupin looks almost skeletal in this picture. Is it the candlelight? Also, if you look really closely, you can see a tiny picture of Harry in the newspaper under Lupin’s hand.

Chapter title: Very intriguing. It had me wondering throughout the whole chapter what on earth the bribe was going to be about.

Most memorable:

-Lupin appearing just when Harry, Ron and Hermione were so desperate to see a friendly face.

-The surprise of Harry being implicated in Dumbledore’s death.

-That Rufus Scrimgeour protected Harry even while he was being tortured. I give him a lot of credit for that.

-Ron’s fierce allegiance to Hermione.

-That Harry and Hermione address their former teacher as Remus. They are starting to sound like adults.

-Lupin’s misery, and his seeming lack of love for Tonks.

-Harry’s argument with Lupin. I was pretty shocked that Harry would say these kinds of things to one of his mentors, but I also agreed with him and was glad he took a stand. It was a more productive kind of righteous anger than Harry’s angst in Book 5.

-Umbridge has the locket? I got chills just reading that.


-Ron turning the lights on and off without really paying attention. I know I would do this if I had a Deluminator… I wouldn’t be able to stop fidgeting with it.

Worth pointing out:

-The Deatheaters aren’t staking out the house because they think Harry is inside… they’re appearing because Harry and Hermione keep saying Voldemort’s name.


-Just how big is Lupin’s cloak? It seems that he keeps a lot under there… four bottles of butterbeer, a newspaper, etc. Sounds a bit like Hermione’s beaded bag.

Favorite quote:

Mundungus tries to defend his actions the night that the Order of the Phoenix moved Harry to the Burrow.

Mundungus: “I panicked, okay? I never wanted to come along, no offense, mate, but I never volunteered to die for you, an’ that was bleedin’ You-Know-Who come flying at me, anyone woulda got outta there, I said all along I didn’t wanna do it-“

“For your information, none of the rest of us Disapparated,” said Hermione.

“Well, you’re a bunch of bleedin’ ‘eroes then, aren’t you?”

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Scholastic hardcover, pg. 220.)

Monday, October 29, 2007


I was at a conference the other day... a really great conference for children's librarians... and I was chatting with Jennie of BiblioFile, who is a fellow library school student. Jennie mentioned that she likes Harry Potter (which of course, immediately makes me start talking incessantly). I started to write down my blog address for her in case she wanted to see all my ramblings on the subject. She looked over my shoulder as I was writing and said: "You're Wizards Wireless?!"

Um, yes, I answered. So, this marks the first time ever that anyone has ever independently recognized the name of my blog. Very exciting. And actually, I should say here that Jennie was one of the reasons I started blogging... she was one of the inspirational people at the Kidlit drink night I attended at the American Library Association conference (see my introductory blog post for how I started). Sara Lewis Holmes, Mother Reader and Fuse #8 were also there... and were all very nice to me... even though I didn't have a URL at the time.

It reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That. Although you post things on your blog for the whole world to read... you sometimes forget that people (other than you) read it. For example, the day I posted about favorite Harry Potter characters, my brother (who I didn't know read my blog) asked me: "Why would anyone vote for Snape as their favorite character?"(In response, I loaned him the 7th book).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another confession

A lot of people chimed in on the confession I made about having not read a classic series of books and now I feel far less alone.

So now I thought I'd admit something else:

I've stopped reading adult books.

Yup. Really.

No more Oprah books. No more Pulitzer Prize winners. No more non fiction tomes. No more bestselling John Grisham books. No more political candidate books. No more New York Times bestsellers. No more "my book club is reading this book and it's wonderful and everyone else is reading it and you should too" books.


Three reasons, really.

The first is that I'm currently in graduate school... specifically, library school, and let me tell you, there is a LOT of assigned reading. So, that severely limits any books I might read for pleasure.

The second is that because of my new job as a children's book buyer I'm reading a lot of books for work. Advance copies and current bestselling children's books and children's classics I always meant to read and series books, and on and on. (Cool job, isn't it? =) In the extremely limited non-grad school reading that I'm doing, these are the books that get read.

And third is that I'm just not that into adult books anymore. Maybe this will change- but right now I'm enjoying children's books more. I don't know if there's one specific reason... probably many things.

So, there you are. And one more admission... I haven't read The Kite Runner. I started it... it really depressed me, and I haven't finished it.

Are you still speaking to me? Please tell me I'm not alone.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Harry Potter Halloween costumes

Need a creative Harry Potter costume? My very punny friends Cate and Josh came up with some great ideas:

Cate's idea: Put on a wig and a fake beard, and carry around a garden pot and a spade. You'd be a Hairy Potter. (Harry Potter)

Josh's idea: Dress like a door and carry a bell with a dunce cap on it. You'd be a Dumb Bell Door. (Dumbledore). Alternatively, you could dress like a door and carry a dumb bell weight.

My idea: Put a wig on your head. Head Wig. (Hedwig)

My other idea: Dress in black. Look concerned. You'd be Serious Black. (Sirius Black)

Yeah, you're right. Cate and Josh are funnier than me.

Anyone else have any good ideas?

Calvin and Hobbes homage

If you're a a fan of Calvin and his tiger, check out Calvin and Hobbes: Magic on Paper. It's an intriguing website that offers a rare in-depth comic strip analysis.

Thanks to Unshelved for the link.

Harry Potter: The Future

In Discussion Question Five I asked what you envision as the future of the Harry Potter cast of characters. I got asked what my opinion is (which I'm always happy to give =). I gave it some thought.... see below.





I want to start with what J.K. Rowling said about the future of the major characters. (My source here is the MSNBC interview that was recorded the weekend the book was released.) Harry gets a job as an Auror, roots out the corruption in the Ministry and eventually becomes head of the Auror office. Ron assists Harry in the Auror office, although in the July 30th Bloomsbury webchat J.K. Rowling says that Ron helps run Weasley Wizards Wheezes. And Hermione is a lawyer working in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

What do I think?
I have a hard time believing that Harry works his way up to the head of the Auror office. Yes, I know that it's what he always wanted to do. And yes, the Ministry is now run by Kingsley Shacklebolt, so it's a different place than it was in Book 7. But still- I can't imagine Harry starting at the bottom on the career ladder. Here's why:

In that powerful moment when he stood with two wands in his hand and Voldemort lay defeated at his feet... Harry became a superstar. True, he had always been famous, but that was for something he didn't remember and had no active role in. Harry was very involved and very aware of finishing off Voldemort. And almost the entire wizarding world witnessed that crucial moment. I think that's the stuff legends are made of... and I just don't see Harry taking an entry level job after that. To me, it would be more realistic if he was immediately appointed to a more prominent role... or found a different career entirely separate from the Ministry. But I don't see him working his way up the ladder- because I think he's already at the top. This would be like J.K. Rowling submitting manuscripts and query letters to publishers for her next book- instead of being besieged with offers to publish anything she wants.

Also, I think there's an odd dichotomy about Harry actually becoming an Auror. He says in the fith book that it's what he really wants to do... but in the sixth book he's very dismissive about the profession. When he talks to Rufus Scrimgeour, Harry implies that having a guard of Aurors wouldn't be very helpful. I don't think he respects the position very much... he just doesn't have any other career plans.

And Ron... well, I just don't see him working in the Auror office. I see him being much more comfortable in a joke shop. Also, I think if Ron and George were business partners, George would finally respect Ron as an equal. For Ron to help run the family business after the devastating loss of Fred would be a very noble thing to do. Plus it would be a lot of fun... and I think Ron is more into fun than into battling dark wizards.

Hermione... yes, I could see her as a lawyer. She's a genius, and I think she would use the law to help people as much as possible. I could also see her as a professor... or possibly the Hogwarts headmistress when McGonagall retires.

I'm still thinking about the other characters.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Harry Potter 7: Discussion Question Five

There's been a lot of discussion about whether J.K. Rowling should reveal the professions/sexual orientations/favorite colors of her characters if she didn't write about in the published books.

But, let's say for a moment that she didn't and that there was no further information about Harry and friends other than what was contained in the pages of the seven novels.

What do you think the future of the characters are? What would you like them to be? Without straying too far into the area of fan fiction... what careers/relationships/pets/whatever would you imagine they have?

Although this discussion question doesn't really contain spoilers (even if you haven't read the 7th book, you probably assume that at least a character or two survived until the end)... my guess is that the comments section will be full of spoilers- so be careful if you haven't finished the book.

For more discussion questions about Book 7, see this post. Also, check out this post for some bonus discussion questions that were actually asked to (and answered by) J.K. Rowling.

UPDATE: Yes, there are spoilers in the comments section of this post. For my opinion(s) about the future of the characters (with huge spoilers)... see here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New books!

Here are some brand new children's books that I'm excited about (but haven't gotten a chance to read yet). Reviews will follow in the next few weeks (or months) but I wanted to highlight a few books on my reading list.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

This is the third book in the Peter and the Starcatchers trilogy (the second one was Peter and the Shadow Thieves) and I've found it to be a terrific series. Dave Barry is a humor writer and Ridley Pearson is a mystery writer and together they've produced funny mysteries. All three books are prequels to Peter Pan... so it helps to have a basic knowledge of the plot of Peter Pan. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon just came out yesterday... and I'm about 20 pages into it. I can't wait to finish it and find out the answers to some of the mysteries in the second book.

Blue Moo by Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford

This is the fourth Boyton/Ford co-production and my son is an enormous fan of their other three albums: Rhinoceros Tap, Philadelphia Chickens and Dog Train. My personal favorite (thus far) is Dog Train... it's rock and roll and hits me just right. Blue Moo is full of 1950's types songs- and I'm really looking forward to it. As with the previous albums, Sandra Boynton has created a delightful companion book and has gotten some really cool people to record the songs: Patti Lupone, B.B. King, Brian Wilson, etc. There's a great video about the making of this album on YouTube called "Behind the Moosic" which is a lot of fun to watch.

Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennfer L. Holm, illustrated by Elicia Castaldi

This is an incredibly creative book by the author of Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven and Baby Mouse. The story of Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf is told completely thorough stuff: calendars, post-it notes, bank deposit slips, shopping lists, etc. While there's text on the page, it's not done in a standard way at all and is a highly visual book. This book came out a few months ago and I've heard great things about it. I just picked up my copy at the library today and I can't wait to read it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One last post about Dumbledore

In the midst of the news that Dumbledore is gay, I've heard a lot of comments from people who feel that J.K. Rowling is revealing too much and that this detail isn't relevant. See the comments section of my round-up post relating to the Dumbledore news.

This made me curious. How do you feel about it? I just added a poll to the sidebar.... I'd love to hear what you think.

I'm happy to share my opinion (which probably won't make me very popular). My feeling is that J.K. Rowling answered a direct question asked by a fan and she gave an answer about her personal concept of the character. I'm okay with it. She's not telling me how to view Dumbledore, she's saying how SHE views him. I don't think she did this for any publicity or political reasons... I think she was just trying to answer the question. (Excuse me, I have to go run for cover now... I know a LOT of people disagree with this).

UPDATE: There are Dumbledore Pride t-shirts for sale already. Wow, that was quick.

J.K. Rowling made a few statements to the press this morning about the uproar her announcement caused. See this post at the Leaky Cauldron for links and quotes.

Okay, so Dumbledore news aside, I thought there were some other great questions asked during the Carnegie Hall event on Friday night. My favorite question (which needs some spoiler space)....












...was this one:

Question: "When Harry was stabbed by a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, since he was a Horcrux shouldn't it have been destroyed then?"

Isn't that a great question? Here's a few others that I liked:

Question: "Does Malfoy owe Harry a debt?"

Question: "How did you decide that Molly Weasley would be the one to finish off Bellatrix?"

Question: "How different would the last two books be if Arthur had been killed in the middle of book five?"

Question: "Is Severus Snape's portrait in the headmaster's office?"

I think these are great Harry Potter discussion questions. Mull them over and then (if you want to) see J.K. Rowling's answers in the Leaky Cauldron transcript.

100 Books Your Child Should Listen to Before Starting School

Emily at Whimsy linked to a very intriguing list on the webpage of the Westland, Michigan public library. (Thanks to Jen Robinson for linking to Whimsy).

It’s a list of 100 books that your child should listen to before starting school. I could argue about which books are on the list and which were left off… but I'm more interested in taking the suggestions at face value, and seeing which books I’ve read with my son. He’s three now, so there are still a few years until he starts school.

It was a pretty illuminating experience to see which books my son has read. I felt like my he’s read an enormous number of books, but as I was going through this list I saw so many books I love that we haven’t read together yet. Now that he can sit still for longer picture books, I can’t wait to try some of these with him.

Here’s the list… I divided the 100 books into eight subcategories and alphabetized them by the author's last name. (I couldn't help it).

Books that I loved when I was little and that my son loves now:

  • Madeline by Bemelmans, Ludwig
  • Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Bridwell, Norman
  • Goodnight, Moon by Brown, Margaret Wise
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Carle, Eric
  • Are You My Mother? By Eastman, P. D.
  • The Little Engine That Could by Piper, Watty
  • Curious George by Rey, H. A.
  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Scarry, Richard
  • Caps for Sale by Slobodkina, Esphyr
  • Harry, the Dirty Dog by Zion, Gen

Books that my son and I discovered together how wonderful they are:

  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by Burningham, John
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Christelow, Eileen
  • Freight Train by Crews, Donald
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Cronin, Doreen
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! By Emberley, Ed
  • Lunch by Fleming, Denise
  • Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by Martin, Bill
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Rathmann, Peggy
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Rosen, Michael
  • Knuffle Bunny by Willems, Mo

Books that my son loved when he was younger:

  • Ten, Nine, Eight by Bang, Molly
  • Where’s Spot? By Hill, Eric
  • Is it Red? Is it Yellow? Is it Blue? An Adventure in Color by Hoban, Tana

Books I loved when I was little that we haven’t read together yet:

  • Miss Nelson is Missing by Allard, Harry
  • Stone Soup by Brown, Marcia
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Burton, Virginia Lee
  • Strega Nona by De Paola, Tomie
  • Corduroy by Freeman, Don
  • The Snowy Day by Keats, Ezra Jack
  • Leo the Late Bloomer by Kraus, Robert
  • The Carrot Seed by Krauss, Ruth
  • Frog and Toad are Friends by Lobel, Arnold
  • All By Myself by Mayer, Mercer
  • Amelia Bedelia by Parish, Peggy
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Potter, Beatrix
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Viorst, Judith

Books I discovered later in life and haven’t read with my son yet. I’m curious to see his reactions to them.

  • The Mitten by Brett, Jan
  • Miss Rumphius by Cooney, Barbara
  • Olivia by Falconer, Ian
  • Millions of Cats by Gag, Wanda
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Galdone, Paul
  • Is Your Mama a Llama? By Guarino, Deborah
  • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Henkes, Kevin
  • Bread and Jam for Frances by Hoban, Russell
  • Miss Mary Mack by Hoberman, Mary Ann
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Johnson, Crockett
  • Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock by Kimmel, Eric
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Leaf, Munro
  • Make Way for Ducklings by McCloskey, Robert
  • Grandfather’s Journey by Say, Allen
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by Steig, William
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Taback, Simms
  • Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Waber, Bernard
  • The Napping House by Wood, Audrey
  • Polar Express by Van Allsburg, Chris
  • Owl Moon by Yolen, Jane

Books that my son has listened to but hasn’t fallen in love with yet:

  • Guess How Much I Love You by McBratney, Sam
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Numeroff, Laura
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Sendak, Maurice
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Farmer Duck by Waddell, Martin
  • Mouse Paint by Walsh, Ellen Stoll
  • Seven Blind Mice by Young, Ed

Books I have read but don’t know that well:

  • Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Barrett, Judi
  • The Three Bears by Barton, Byron
  • The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Kent, Jack
  • Over in the Meadow by Langstaff, John
  • Tacky the Penguin by Lester, Helen
  • A Color of His Own by Lionni, Leo
  • Froggy Gets Dressed by London, Jonathan
  • Martha Speaks by Meddaugh, Susan
  • The Rainbow Fish by Pfister, Marcus
  • A Chair for My Mother by Williams, Vera B.

I recognize the titles and authors of these books, but I’m not familiar with them:

  • Where’s My Teddy? By Alborough, Jez
  • Happy Birthday, Moon by Asch, Frank
  • I Like Myself by Beaumont, Karen
  • Today I Feel Silly by Curtis, Jamie Lee
  • Bed Hogs by DiPucchio, Kelly
  • Feathers For Lunch by Ehlert, Lois
  • The Magic Hat by Fox, Mem
  • Barnyard Song by Greene, Rhonda
  • A First Picture Book of Nursery Rhymes by Harbour, Elizabeth (Illustrator)
  • Rosie’s Walk by Hutchins, Pat
  • Splash! By Jonas, Ann
  • Jump, Frog, Jump! By Kalan, Robert
  • The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Kasza, Keiko
  • Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore! By McPhail, David
  • The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Neitzel, Shirley
  • The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Noble, Trinka
  • The Relatives Came by Rylant, Cynthia
  • The Kissing Hand by Penn, Audrey
  • Duck on a Bike by Shannon, David
  • Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Sharmat, Mitchell
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Shaw, Charles
  • Imogene’s Antlers by Small, David
  • And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon by Stevens, Janet
  • Who’s Counting by Tafuri, Nancy
  • Pigsty by Teague, Mark
  • Noisy Nora by Wells, Rosemary
  • I Went Walking by Williams, Sue

We have so much wonderful reading to do! I need to pull these books off my bookshelves and check them out of the library- and give them a try.

Were there any of your favorites on this list? Were there any books that are favorites of kids in your life? (children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren, neighbors, students, library patrons, etc.) Do you think this is a good list?

Monday, October 22, 2007

What were your favorite books as a teenager?

Maureen at Confessions of a Bibliovore tagged me to write about favorite books that I read as a teenager. This is to get back at me for my question about favorite childhood picture books.

Below are the books that I read between ages 12 and 18 that were really life changing and which remain some of my all time favorite books.
  • Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. My aunt handed this book to me when I was 16 and said "You need to read this." And she was right. It's a fantastic coming of age novel about a girl who wanted to be an actress living in New York City during the 1930's. I would say that this was my favorite book ever... until I discovered Harry Potter.
  • Exodus by Leon Uris. An epic novel that really moved me... I was inspired to go to Israel because of this book.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. What is there to say about this book that hasn't already been said? I love it, and re-read it probably about once a year. It's perfect every time. I don't remember when I read it the first time, but I'm pretty sure it was in high school.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Like Pride and Prejudice, there's very little new and original to say about this book. But I loved it. And I loved Jo. And I never understood why Jo didn't marry Laurie. I went on to read every Louisa May Alcott book I could find, but this one is still my favorite of hers.
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I love this book. And I love the movie. But they are very different animals. The book is really a brilliant and immensely creative satire and it never fails to make me laugh. Even if you have the movie memorized, give the book a try.
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. A long and intense biography of Michelangelo that inspired me to take classes in Italian Renaissance Art and to go to Italy to see the sculptures for myself.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This one I discovered by accident. I was in Israel, and desperate for a book to read. I went to a local bookstore and this was the only book I could find in English. I devoured it immediately and after I came home, I read all of Douglas Adams' other books... but I like this one the best.
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. When I was in eighth grade, I had an English teacher that loved Tolkien and assigned the trilogy for class. I really got into these books, and also read The Hobbit and attempted to read The Silmarillion. (Has anyone finished The Silmarillion?)
Oops... I re-read Maureen's original post and see that I was only supposed to mention three favorite books, not eight. Also, it was for Teen Read Week, which has, alas, ended. I hope she'll forgive me.

I'm tagging Cheryl Rainfeld for this meme because she loves YA books and she loves talking about her favorite books.


This is my 100th post! Wow! When I started, I wasn't sure if I had enough to say to keep this blog going (but I see that I've proven myself wrong). I can't seem to stop writing.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading and commenting... blogging has been a fantastic experience and far more interactive than I could have ever imagined. It's still amazing to me that people who haven't met me are interested in what I have to say.

If you're just joining Wizards Wireless, here are my introductory posts which explain what this blog is about. Short answer: children's books, comic strips and Harry Potter. For longer answers, see these posts:
Updates to these original posts:

-I recently started a job as a children's bookseller, so this blog will doubtless be more current on new children's books than it has in the past.

-This blog seems to have developed a strong independent bookstore cheering section (which started well before the job mentioned above).

-The Wizards Wireless radio station was mentioned in the 7th Harry Potter book, but not really in a good way. But by that point I had already named my blog, so, oh well. I still like the name, though.

-Thanks to the recent Kidlitosphere conference, I had the opportunity to meet tons of other children's literature bloggers and feel much more connected to the kidlit community. I've added links to lots of new and wonderful kid lit blogs.

I also want to say a huge thank you to the blogs who have linked to or have posted about Wizards Wireless. I'm so honored! Thank you to:
If I missed you, please let me know so I can add you to the list.

And the biggest thanks of all goes to everyone who has read this blog. Thank you!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Favorite holiday books

Thanks to everyone who told me about their favorite Halloween books. It brought back some great memories and inspired me to seek out new books.

Now I'm curious to hear more holiday favorites. What books did you read as a child, or have you recently discovered that are terrific for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas?

There are lots and lots of lists of holiday favorites in books, articles and library catalogs but I love to hear personal recommendations from people who have really fallen in love with a book.

I know, I know, it's WAY too early to think about all these holidays, but I'm a bookseller and I have to plan ahead. Any mention of your favorite books would be hugely appreciated.

Harry Potter 7: Epilogue poll results

Question: I thought the epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was:
  • 47%: Okay
  • 14%: Fantastic
  • 14%: Awful
  • 14%: Unnecessary
  • 9 %: Not detailed enough
  • 0%: I haven't read the book
So, this leads me to the conclusion that not a lot of people were thrilled with the epilogue. "Okay" won very definitively. I'm of the rare breed who did like the epilogue (see this post for why), although I do agree with a lot of the points made in the comments section of both this post and this one.

In other poll news: the favorite Harry Potter characters poll keeps taking new turns. I originally asked the question to see how popular Snape was, and to my surprise, he immediately took over the lead.

When I last commented on the in-progress results they stood as follows:
  1. Harry
  2. Snape
  3. Hermione
  4. Lupin
  5. McGonagall and Sirius
Here are the current results as of this writing:
  1. Hermione
  2. Harry
  3. Ginny and Snape
  4. Lupin and Neville
  5. Fred and George
Characters that have gotten no votes so far:
  • Fleur Delacour
  • Petunia Dursley
  • Vernon Dursley
  • Xenophilius Lovegood
  • Lucius Malfoy
  • Narcissa Malfoy
  • Mad Eye Moody
  • Auntie Muriel
  • Peter Pettigrew
  • Horace Slughorn
While I understand most of these, I have to ask, nobody likes Mad Eye Moody? Why not?

I'm curious to see what the final results will be!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

J.K. Rowling Gives Details, and Lots of Them

J.K. Rowling's U.S. book tour ended with a bang in New York last night. As I hoped, she revealed all kinds of juicy information and gave great answers. The preliminary transcript is here at the Leaky Cauldron... more to come. There are a huge number of spoilers, so only click on it if you solemnly swear that you've finished the 7th book.

The revelation about Dumbledore (which I suspected after reading the 7th book- but hadn't thought a lot about) is all over the news today, so it might be hard to miss. But even if you've heard it, I highly recommend clicking on the post so you can see the full context of her answer. I also added a new poll on the subject, see the sidebar to vote.

There's more discussion about Dumbledore on Worth the Trip, A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, and Confessions of A Bibliovore. Also, Dumbledore's Wikipedia entry has already been updated.

Monica from Educating Alice, Betsy from Fuse #8 and GraceAnne (whose thoughts were included in a Leaky Cauldron post) were lucky enough to see J.K. Rowling live on Friday morning. Lisa Yee wrote about seeing J.K. Rowling at her L.A. tour stop and also posted her reaction to the news about Dumbledore.

Update: The Leaky Cauldron preliminary transcript mentioned above is now complete.
Also, there's a great additional post at Worth the Trip with links to worldwide news coverage on the subject.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dear Wizards Wireless

I thought I'd share the answers to a few questions that have come my way recently.

Question: Do you ever talk about anything other than Harry Potter?

Answer: Yes. Really, truly, I do.

Question: Aren't you sick of talking about Book 7?

Answer: Nope. Not yet.

Question: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in July. It's currently October. Why are you still putting spoilers on the top of the Book 7 posts? Surely everyone has read the book by now and the plot details are fair game?

Answer: Every week at least one person tells me that they haven't finished the 7th (or 6th or 5th) book yet... and even though it's been months since the book was released, they're still trying as hard as possible to avoid spoilers. I feel that the Harry Potter books (like every other book) are best if you find out the plot by reading the story and not because someone told you. I found it magical to read the Harry Potter books for the first time, and I respect those who want to find out the ending for themselves. There is information about the 7th book on this blog, but I try mightily to put spoilers on all posts that might give away significant plot details. Book Six was spoiled for me... see this post... so I try not to do that to anyone else.

Question: What happened to the chapter synopsis posts you were doing of Book 7?

Answer: Grad school happened. But I plan to start writing the chapter posts again soon. Thanks to Liz at By the Nightlight who told me how much she enjoyed reading them... and inspired me to start up again. If you've missed them so far, (I'm up to Chapter Ten) click on the heading on the sidebar under Labels titled "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows chapters."

Or follow these links: (but only if you've finished Book 7)
And, although it's not a formal chapter summary yet, I did do a post on the epilogue:
I also started a new series of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows discussion questions. Feel free to add your opinions in the comments section, or you can use the questions for a book group or class discussion. And they work great as conversation starters with other people who have finished the book (not that I've ever done this, or anything. =)

You can find the discussion questions either by clicking on "Harry Potter discussion questions" on the sidebar (aren't I creative?) or by following these links:
No one has replied to Question 3 yet... which surprises me because I thought it was a nice, meaty topic.

Question: Why do your book reviews link to Amazon?

Answer: Because I like Amazon's customer reviews, and I think they provide good feedback about a book. They also offer a different perspective than professional reviews. But I also strongly support independent bookstores and you'll find links to approximately 100 independents that specialize in children's books listed on the sidebar. For more independent bookstore resources see this post and this one.

Any other questions (other than: "Shouldn't you be doing homework right now?") I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

J.K. Rowling U.S. Book Tour continued

There's a short article today in the Times Picayune about J.K. Rowling's visit to New Orleans. Not too much new stuff here, but she did answer questions about the fate of a character or two (that didn't appear in the other interviews). I also like the quotes from the students at the very end of the article.

J.K. Rowling's U.S. tour ends on Friday with two appearances in New York- one for school children and one for the public. For other articles about her tour so far check this post and this one.


I love Doonesbury. It's extremely well drawn and researched, it's funny, it's topical, it's witty and it has an amazing cast of characters. I think it elevates the comics pages in some ways, and I'm always disappointed when I find a paper that has segregated it into another section.

I don’t think that Doonesbury should be on the editorial page of the newspaper for the same reason I don’t think Dilbert should be in the business section. It marginalizes the audiences for these strips. In the case of Doonesbury, I think it makes the strip feel like it’s not a regular comic, and that you should only read it if you’re well versed in politics.

There seem to be two types of Doonesbury readers: those who follow it every day and those who read it occasionally but get frustrated by the immense number of characters and political angle. I used to fall into the second category…. I thought Doonesbury was way too complicated and I didn’t get the jokes.

Then I read all the collections, starting with the very first strip where B.D. meets Mike. Some of the earlier strips were difficult to slog through. I think Garry Trudeau's art has improved more over the years than any other comic strip artist I can think of and the later years are a pleasure to read. But once I read the collections, I finally understood who all the characters were and how they related to each other. Trudeau makes a lot of references to previous events in the characters lives, and the jokes are very funny when you get them.

It's still the only comic strip to have won the Pulitzer prize- which happened in the early years, but I think is more deserved now given the level of reporting and research Trudeau puts into each strip. In 2006 Gene Weingarten did a fabulous in-depth article on Garry Trudeau in the Washington Post which I highly recommend if you have any interest in Doonesbury. I grant that the strip has some inconsistencies and the characters only seem to age every ten years. But overall, it's a great read.

Doonesbury is the only strip that has really dealt with the Iraq war and it is continuing to do so in a poignant and intriguing way. Trudeau has given me an inkling of the anger and healing that happens after an amputation... something you don't see in Garfield every day. Not all subjects are political though. Two years ago, there was a fantastic series on a character applying to college, which was relevant to anyone who's been through the experience.

If you do decide to read the collections, start with the big omnibus editions that contain multiple years. It will give you more consistency than the short books. Go in this order: The Doonesbury Chronicles, Doonesbury's Greatest Hits, The People's Doonesbury, Doonesbury Dossier and Doonesbury Deluxe. There's lots more after that if you're interested (and the artwork gets a lot better) but the first few books should at least give you a good character base. The books mentioned above are readily available in libraries, bargain bins and used bookstores everywhere.

If you do decide to read the old strips, remember that some of the political strips are extremely timely to the period they were written. I feel it's okay to skip them if they're not making you laugh. The point of reading the collections is really to understand the relationships between the characters. Flashbacks: Twenty Five Years of Doonesbury is a great book and is a good place to get a primer and context.

If Doonesbury overwhelms and confuses you, give it another chance. Pick up a collection. Start reading the strips regularly. Read the Doonesbury website (which is part of You don't have to know everything about politics to find it funny, I promise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Harry Potter and Religion

Check out this intriguing article from MTV News with information from Monday's press conference with J.K. Rowling about the role of religion in the Harry Potter books. Even the article title gives away the ending, so please only click on the link if you've finished reading the 7th book.

There should be a few more updates (and hopefully) more questions answered... her book tour doesn't end until Friday.

For more articles about J.K. Rowling's current U.S. tour, see this post.

Halloween Books

Do you have a favorite picture book about Halloween? There's a post up at Parent Hacks on this subject. Be sure to check the comments section of the post to see all the suggestions.

As a side note, if you're a parent, I highly recommend reading the Parent Hacks blog. It contains some of the most helpful and practical tips I've ever seen. It's a fantastic resource.

And if you have a favorite Halloween book (whether you're a parent or not), I'd love to hear what it is.

Harry Potter 7: Discussion Question Four

Here's another discussion question for those of you who have finished Harry Potter 7.


Were there unnecessary deaths? (I think there were). Who died that shouldn't have? Whose death upset you the most?

My answer to this question is in the comments of this post.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

J.K. Rowling's U.S. Book Tour

J.K. Rowling has started her book tour in the United States (the first since Prisoner of Azkaban) .. to audiences of lucky contest winners (which alas, does not include Wizards Wireless) in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York. She's been answering questions, doing readings and signing lots of books.

This post at the Leaky Cauldron has pictures, news articles and more. And this post has Rowling's answers to a Q&A session. Be warned, they may contain spoilers.

The Hogwarts Encyclopedia doesn't seem to be in the works anytime soon. Sigh.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A confession

I have never read Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass.

There. I admitted it.

I've always meant to read His Dark Materials (the trilogy of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass)... I just haven't read it yet. I'll read it, I promise.

Several people have said the same thing after I've admitted this... that I'm so lucky because I have this wonderful series of books to read and discover for the first time. I love that viewpoint- it's the same way I feel about people who haven't read Harry Potter.

Is there anything that you really, truly mean to read... but haven't? (It's okay to answer Harry Potter. Who am I to judge?) Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Favorite Picture Books Round-up

What were your favorite picture books when you were growing up? I recently posted this question and got many wonderful responses. Here's where to find them:

Kristen at 2nd Gen Librarian talks about The Lorax, Bears in the Night, The Big Orange Splot, Blueberries for Sal, and The Friendly Beasts.

Stacy at Booktopia mentions Madeline, The Mitten and Garbage Delight.

Franki at A Year of Reading discusses the books she saved from childhood including Sad Day, Glad Day, Two New Babies, Time For a Rhyme, A Present for the Princess, The Princess and the Pea, Jiggers, The Witch Next Door, Where the Wild Things Are and more.

Cheryl Rainfield came up with a long and wonderful list including The Story of Ferdinand, The Monster at the End of This Book, Hide and Seek with Lovable Furry Old Grover, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hatches the Egg, Ten Apples Up on Top!, The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat.... and many, many more.

Becky at Reading With Becky talks about Umbrella, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, Are You My Mother?, Blueberries For Sal, Noisy Nora and Just For You.

Jen at Jen Robinson's Book Page says she doesn't really remember her favorite picture books as a child, but one that stands out is the Digging-ist Dog.

See the comments section of my original post for even more great childhood favorites.

Did I miss your post? Let me know so I can add it to the list.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My favorite picture books

What were your favorite picture books when you were growing up? I recently had a conversation on this subject with Kristen at 2nd Gen Librarian. She just did a great post about her favorites and came up with five wonderful books.

I thought this was a fantastic idea and decided to make a list of my favorite five books from when I was little. I failed... it turned into a list of ten. I listed them in alphabetical order- because they're all so wonderful that I can't rank one above another. Here they are:
What were your favorite picture books? I'm talking about the book that you read over and over until it fell apart. Or the book that if you saw it today, you would squeal "Oh! I loved that book!" Or the book you borrowed from the library every time you went? Or the book you could recite every word of, even though you haven't seen it for 20 years? Or the book you always give to a new baby because you want them to share the magic you experienced as a child?

You saw a book on this list that made you squeal, didn't you? =)

Update: I posted a round-up of other bloggers favorite picture books here.